From the department of “you heard it here first,” a few observations.

First, the personal laptop PC is dead. Not a big insight, really. We all kind of know this with people buying tablet devices, though its basically a zero-sum gain with folks spending their time on one device over another. I’m seeing less and less laptops out in the world; consumer PCs in general are a dying breed. Just look at the recent earnings reports of some of the largest PC manufacturers for hard evidence of category turmoil. At a recent conference I attended I saw exactly two laptops in sessions, along with a smattering of tablets devices and smart phones.

Second, and more importantly, the conference’s rooms were filled with attendees writing on “writing tablets.” Yellow legal pads and blank notebooks such as Moleskine. Most of the people were hand writing! I thought I had been transported back twenty years. I noticed people were not just writing long-hand, but also drawing symbols and related graphical mnemonics to represent information they were taking down. Learning was non-linear and more holisitic using personalized cognitive script. 

On my return to the office, I mentioned this to a colleague and she said lately people in her graduate program at Duke have switched from laptops to paper tablets to take class notes. I find this fascinating. What’s up?

Have we hit a ceiling with electronic devices as information sources? Is the recent proliferation of managing social media returning us to the locus of self in order to process more critical information processing situations? Are we just bored with ‘things?’ Whatever it is, I’m keeping an eye on this…